Erik Guay, the most decorated member of the Canadian Alpine Ski Team, has set his sights on a speedy recovery from a knee injury as he prepares for a crucial season that will see him chasing the Canadian record for alpine World Cup podiums and his first Olympic medal.

The 2010 super-G World Cup champion and 2011 world downhill champion had a “scope” in London, Ont., on Tuesday after experiencing knee pain during the team’s ski camp in Zermatt, Switzerland. Some meniscus clean-up was required but no ligament damage was discovered, which has left the 31-year-old targeting an October return to snow.
“My knee had been feeling good and I was able to do everything in the gym with no pain. I only feel it on skis,” said Guay, who flew back to his home in Quebec Wednesday evening. “They basically just cleaned up the knee so I’m going to be off for a little while now. I just have to roll with it.
“For sure I’m thinking about Sochi – it’s always in the back of your mind – but I’ve just got to take things step by step.”
Guay, of Mont-Tremblant, Que., has 19 career World Cup podiums – second among Canadian men only to ski racing icon Steve Podborski’s record of 20 (Nancy Greene Raine also has 20) – and he’s preparing for a year in which he will be pushing for the podium at the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games after coming close with two fifth-place finishes in Vancouver-Whistler in 2010. He originally hurt his left knee in March but he was able to ski through the problem and complete his World Cup season. The father of two pulled out of a spring ski camp at Sunshine Village in Alberta as a precaution after again experiencing pain in his knee.
Guay, who has found a way to manage a previously troublesome back problem, had minor knee surgery last September but was able to return for the season-opening speed World Cup races at Lake Louise, Alta. He went on to put together a consistent season that included a second place finish in the downhill in Kitzbühel, Austria – the so-called Super Bowl of ski racing.
“It’s better timing than last year, in a way,” said Guay, who is hoping to be back on snow by the time the team takes part in a camp in Europe in October, though he has bone bruising and an exact timetable has not been set for his return. “This year I haven’t skied all summer so I’m going to go into the season cold. I will have to rely on my age and experience.”
In order to qualify for nomination to the Canadian Olympic team for Sochi, Guay needs two top-12 World Cup results – one from last season, which he has secured, and one from 2013-14. If he’s healthy that shouldn’t be too much of an obstacle for a racer who was ranked sixth in the world in downhill last year and 11th in super-G.
“If you want to perform well in Sochi you need to take things one step at a time. There’s a lot of work to be done between now and then,” Guay said. “I’m not really too worried about (qualification). As soon as I start feeling better I’ll be fine.”
Guay was due to be back in the gym Thursday morning for physio but it will be a few weeks before he’s able to return to full dryland training. The rest of the men’s speed team is training in Zermatt under the watchful eye of new head coach Martin Rufener.
“Things are going really, really well,” said Rufener. “We had to send Erik home but the rest of the team is doing well. The focus was there right away and you can see there’s a really good spirit there.
“They had a really tough but good block of training back in Calgary and everyone is excited to work with each other.”
Photo courtesy of Alpine Canada.
SnowOnline Editor: Lori Knowles